"L.A. Twister" -- the title refers to the kitschy party game, not the natural disaster -- is a low-budget indie about a struggling actor and his depressed friend, who make a movie about a struggling actor and his depressed friend, who make a movie ... you get the picture. In trying to qualify as mordant satire, charming rom-com, uplifting buddy movie about underdogs trying to stick it to the man and the most meta story ever told, "L.A. Twister" sprains itself badly. The man, in this case, is the movie industry, which from the POV of a starving actor looks a lot like a lip-licking, obese female casting director who dangles roles in front of boys in exchange for naughty favors. Lenny (Zack Ward) is duly disgusted but obliges without much fuss. It's hard enough to get behind his youthful outrage and contempt for a system that's oblivious to him; his willingness to, um, embrace it -- love interest or no -- doesn't help. As Lenny's recently divorced friend Ethan, Tony Daly has a melancholy charm. And Lenny's coy mistress, Mindy (Jennifer Aspen), stands out as the classically trained actress who worries about neophytes beating her to stardom. Directed by Sven Pape, who edited the movie "Ghosts of the Abyss," from a script by first-time screenwriter Geoffrey Saville-Read, "L.A. Twister" puts itself through more conventional contortions than any system-bucking should.
-- Carina Chocano